DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Genuine Parts Co. (GPC) posted a surprise 13% jump in fourth-quarter earnings.
The parts distributor and seller saw improved results in its automotive segment.
Shares rose 5% to $40.08 in recent trading.
"We are encouraged by the sequential improvement across all of our business segments," said Chairman and Chief Executive Tom Gallagher. "We observed some early signs of improving market conditions in the latter part of 2009, and we feel this bodes well for a stronger performance in 2010."
The operator of NAPA parts stores had seen profits decline as it leaned heavily on its parts business, which has been somewhat recession-resistant as consumers repair old vehicles rather than buying new ones. But industrial-production declines have affected the bottom line significantly.
Genuine Parts reported a profit of $99.2 million, or 62 cents a share, up from $87.8 million, or 55 cents, a year earlier. Revenue declined 1.9% to $2.47 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 50 cents on $2.4 billion in revenue.
Gross margin rose to 31.1% from 29.8%.
The company's automotive segment--its biggest--saw revenue rise 5.9% while operating profit rose 11%. Meanwhile, its industrial segment's revenue declined 11% and profit dropped 16%.
Genuine Parts is the largest member and majority owner of the National Automotive Parts Association, a voluntary trade group that distributes automotive replacement parts in North America. Genuine Parts also distributes industrial parts, business products and electrical components.
-By Nathan Becker, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2855; email@example.com;